The Wedding Year (2019) – Review (with Spoilers)

The Wedding Year - Title Card

Snatch up some tissues and get your favorite comfort food prepared, The Wedding Year is going to handle your romantic comedy fix.

Snatch up some tissues and get your favorite comfort food prepared, The Wedding Year is going to handle your romantic comedy fix.

Director(s) Robert Luketic
Screenplay By Donald Diego
Date Released 9/20/2019
Genre(s) Comedy, Romance
Who Is This For?
  • People Who Like Romantic Comedies
  • Those Who Can Appreciate Eccentric, Sometimes Outspoken, Women
  • A Straight Man/ Funny Girl Comedy Duo
Where To Buy, Rent, or Stream? Amazon
Noted Cast
Mara Sarah Hyland
Jake Tyler James Williams
Jessica Jenna Dewan
Janet Wanda Sykes
Alex Matt Shively
Barbara Kristen Johnston
Michael Patrick Warburton
Preston Keith David
Nicole Camille Hyde
Robbie Zora Bikangaga
Violet Laci Mosley
Zak Tom Connolly

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Plot Summary/ Review (with Spoilers)

Early to mid 20 something Mara has her own apartment, a job, isn’t relying on her parents’ money, but isn’t perfect. She has commitment issues, which stem from her parents, maybe drinks more than some might be comfortable with and she fully takes advantage of marijuana being legal in the great state of California. Oh, and she uses guys for dinner but is it really using when they get to say they had a date with a nice, fun, and cute girl?

But, unlike past guys, Jake stands out. Maybe it is because he was honest, made her laugh, was Black, who knows? Either way, something about him made her question the precedent her parents set, and they end up dating for months. At least, until her old insecurities come into play and you are left wondering if that relationship will be her new precedent for what love should be or is her end game.

Collected Quote(s) or .Gifs

You become an artist the minute you start showing your stuff to the world.
— Jake

It takes more than love to make a marriage work.
— Mara


You’ll Love Jake & Mara Together

Mara (Sarah Hyland) and Jake (Tyler James Williams) slow dancing together.
Mara (Sarah Hyland) and Jake (Tyler James Williams)

While this isn’t my first Sarah Hyland film, it’s the first I can recall her being the focal point of and not part of an ensemble. Which, at first, when you’re adjusting to Mara, you may need a mental adjustment. If only due to Mara coming off zany for the sake of zany and being the hot mess which seems to be the default when people, men especially, write comedy. Think Amy Schumer but without trying to be a bro, and no self-deprecation, and you got Mara.

As for Jake? Well, gone is the Everybody Hates Chris persona and even before he takes his shirt off, revealing your generic muscular body (I’m a hater), you can see there is chemistry between Hyland and Williams. For with him seeming chill, the kind who rolls with the punches, you can see what feels like their default setting as people play off one another. Making it so when Jake is in crisis, like at his brother’s wedding, Mara has the energy and ability to jump right in. Yet, also when Mara is stressing out, Jake is the ground force which makes her feel safe. Whether she is in his arms or not.

And it makes it so that initial awkwardness with Mara, and them as a couple, it feels real. Like someone, maybe Alex, is talking about how the two got together, warts and all, but is helping you understand why they are so perfect together.

*Oh, you also have to love, while it is acknowledged they have sex, good sex based off the moans we hear, it isn’t made into this big and deciding factor. It’s the day to day.

Mara Evolves Past Being Just This Eccentric & Fun Girl

Mara's wedding photography.

Let’s rewind and talk about Mara more, for I must admit her development was a surprise. Specifically the fact she had layers to her, in the form of the emotional trauma that she experienced by watching her parents. Two people, Barbara, and Michael, who are like two wet cats when in the same room. So to see that not just be an excuse for her fears of commitment, but see how it affected her and even her sister, Jessica, in terms of picking partners, you get that rare depiction of the issues a person’s parents imprinted not being a lazy excuse. Instead, you feel like it was really taken into consideration how much parents can screw a person up.

Also, you have to love her interest in photography isn’t just a hobby or treated as a quirk. It’s something she is really into and you can see from her working at a boutique, she has an eye for what can make a beautiful moment and with seeing her portfolio, it makes it clear her life isn’t just about being with some guy she just met and them being sucked into each other’s world.

The Wedding Year Might Get You Emotional

Beyond liking Mara as an individual, and one half of Jake and Mara, you’ll also get invested. You’ll want to see them eventually make it down the aisle, maybe a flashforward to their dreams coming true, and maybe even kids. Making the inevitable fight all the more devastating, but especially because it isn’t a stupid one featuring infidelity or nothing like that.

The issue at hand is the differences between Mara’s upbringing and Jake, and the expectations which come from marriage. That conflict, which is very real, gives you a realistic reason as to why some couples don’t last. For if it is one side not seeing themselves as the traditional wife, maybe feeling like they may get consumed by the other person’s world, or various other reasons, that is a real and understandable fear. One that could mean they may love the other person, but they either aren’t ready or just don’t want the seriousness of marriage – especially with only knowing one another in a year.

Yet, there is also this idea presented that some people don’t need marriage and that it isn’t for everyone. An idea, admittedly, not developed that much, but just it existing feels important.

On The Fence

They Could Have Cut A Lot Of The Random Weddings & Bolstered The Ones Which Dealt With Their Friends & Family

Mara (Sarah Hyland) helping Jake (Tyler James Williams) recover from Alex twisting his nipples.
Mara (Sarah Hyland) and Jake (Tyler James Williams)

The Wedding Year covers 7 weddings, and most of them don’t feel notable at all. In fact, the one which should have been a big deal, Jessica’s, we fly right through that. Also, being that many of the weddings are that of characters you’ll only know the name of due to an invitation being seen, and agenda, before the scene begins, it makes you care less about what’s going on. Not to downplay how funny Mara is, since she clearly doesn’t give a damn, but you’d think the pressure to get married would come from stronger sources than people they chose to respond to over a drinking game or guilt.

It Addresses Cultural Differences – To A Point

Here is my thing, Jake is a Black man from Virginia and Mara a white SoCal girl. There are major differences in a multitude of ways that are slightly touched upon at the wedding of Jake’s brother, Robbie, but not fully. For the most part, through Wanda Sykes’ two characters, and Jake’s father, played by Keith David, to a degree, there is a push for a traditional wedding and marriage. An expectation Robbie’s bride, Violet, struggles with. However, as for the culture clash, that isn’t really presented.

Which, to me, is a missed opportunity and seems like an odd omission. Jake goes from a sista in Nicole, to this white girl, and the family seems to love Nicole, but the film skirts around the why. And while I’m not saying they like Nicole purely because she is Black, you get the vibe this is the kind of family which would side-eye one of the youngest among them dating outside the race.

Overall: Positive (Worth Seeing)

The Wedding Year feels like the kind of film that, if released on Netflix, would be called a “Guilty Pleasure” and would have notable marketing. Because it really does push beyond the usual we met, fell in love, someone did something stupid, and then the audience is left to wonder if they will get back together. It makes sure the female lead’s development isn’t based on the male, that the male isn’t just some dude who has a cute face and works out but makes them into real people.

Which is why this is being labeled positive. Between Mara’s family, her desire to work in photography, and be an artist, combined with Jake’s journey to be a chef, his heartbreak, and you seeing how his family influenced him in love, you get a nearly perfect combo. Making the sole thing you may feel iffy about is how many of the weddings don’t feel like they matter and you may be wishing for a little more of a touch on Mara and Jake’s cultural and racial differences.

Not that I don’t understand it is 2019 but let’s not pretend interracial dating doesn’t come with some conversations that need to be had. Especially since Jake grew up in and around his people.

The Wedding Year Ending Explained

Mara (Sarah Hyland) and Jake (Tyler James Williams) kissing in bed.
Mara (Sarah Hyland) and Jake (Tyler James Williams)

With so many weddings handled between them, Jake gets wedding fever, and with him making a good partner, Mara confesses she loves Jake. With that, he proposes, and she accepts. However, while Jake does good with her parents, she struggles with his family. Specifically how much they push for her to have kids and live up to the expectations of a 50s housewife. This bugs her, and when she follows up with Jake, after stopping Violet from becoming a runaway bride, she tries to see if he has the same mindset as the rest of his family. Because, at this point, Mara is cool with getting married, but settling down like that? It’s a bit much.

Thus leading to her and Jake arguing for his vision for them is very rooted in his upbringing and his family expectations. It doesn’t include her doing photography or what she is passionate about. Which is a problem for her since, as per Alex, she always looks for a flaw as a reason to end things and that, for her, is a MAJOR flaw.

Yet, after spending a few weeks broken up, trying to go back to her old ways, especially after seeing IG pictures of Nicole and Jake together, she realizes she can’t do it. So when Alex and Zak get married, a couple set up thanks to Jake playing wingman, Mara and Jake talk and get back together.

Is A Sequel Possible?

They could easily do a The Wedding Year II and focus on what it takes to put on a wedding versus the experience of going to one. For whether it is dealing with the in-laws and their ideas, Mara’s sister trying to give advice, maybe Mara and Jake questioning if they should have something big, small, or even if they are jumping into things, there is a lot to cover. Add in we got the kind of cast who are worth diving into more, like understanding why Janet and Preston made it when Barbara and Michael didn’t, there is more than enough material, and reasons, for a sequel.

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